Colorado Youth for a Change (CYC), a dropout prevention program in Denver and Boulder County, participated in a unique Cottonwood Institute program called the Music Survival Project in October 2012. In addition to practicing essential camping and survival skills, students explored music in nature, slam poetry with The Slam Movement, and how to find their own wild voice! The students learned a lot about camping, each other, working together and what it takes to live outside. They were inspired by the natural world and took many insights from their time with the Cottonwood Institute.
The weekend was definitely a chilly one! With wind and precipitation threatening, the students were real troopers keeping the fire stoked and wood hunting when needed. Once camp was set up and the fire was roaring, more than music and camping skills were being learned. “Sitting by the fire. The sweet sound of water in the dark, makes everything calm and steady. No cities. No cars. No parents. Just us, getting to know each other – being comfortable… “ – Frida
The group made instruments, went for a hike, discussed self-expression, sang around the fire and played games. A favorite was the blind drum stalk, here is what one participant had to say about his experience: “My favorite thing I experienced in this weekend was when we did an activity in which you closed your eyes, out in the middle of the night, and walked through the woods alone with the sound of the drum guiding you. I actually learned that I had my 6th sense … which changed my whole life. Being afraid of many things in life, but closing my eyes and having the feeling that I have to get out there somehow and really just not being afraid, impacted my life.” -Ivan L.
As with many trips, the activities set the stage, yet somehow, the little things make for the most meaningful experiences. CYC counselor Angel Salathe said, “It was really fun watching the student’s lives being transformed with experiences they had never had before. Whether it was having never made/eaten oatmeal or never having set up a tent, I could see my students looking at the world in ways they hadn’t before.” Those ways of looking at the world brought them back to where they were; the woods. As the second day came and went, students were able to let the natural world seep into them and their thoughts. From trees to mountains, to moving water, the inspiration and power of the outdoors found it’s way into participants minds:
“Nothing can compare to the smell of trees. All that liberty. All that power. All that peace.” -Frida M.
“Nature, I believe is the perfect inspiration for songs and art. A river has a reflection and like most art forms, tells a story. Like a river runs through the mountains, music runs through my veins. It’s a constant beat, and yet, never the same.” – Ambrey
The trip was a great success and we look forward to collaborating with Colorado Youth for a Change in the future. Thanks to all those who made this trip run smoothly!